Interview | Ben Pastor, novelist | Author of the Week

Author, BEN PASTOR, lived for thirty years in the United States, working as a university professor, before returning to Italy to write historical thrillers. Bitter Lemon Press have published six of her novels to date.

Where were you born, and where did you grow up?
I was born in Rome, and grew up in the hill country southeast of the city. Ten elements typified our small town: Roman ruins; rainy springs; olive groves; sparkling red wine; farm women dressing in beautiful traditional garb on holidays; the Thursday fair; more steps than streets (a problem and a good exercise for my family doctor father); a tall church steeple from where you could glimpse the sea in the far distance; cats, dogs, and farm animals of all kinds; the feeling that the world was orderly, cyclical, and safe.

What sorts of books were in your family home?
All sorts (except pornography) and too many to count. As children, my sister Simona and I used to read avidly, and then have a picnic on top of the tall bookshelves of the family library. Years later, we found mummified little pieces of sandwiches behind the furniture when we moved out. Mother had a passion for nineteenth-and-twentieth-century literature: the great French, English, Spanish, Russian, Italian, American authors . . . Father loved geography, history and mysteries; all of us had a fondness for poetry and art. From The Epic of Gilgamesh to Nicholas Nickleby, from Blood and Sand to Dead Souls, the steps to culture and to our picnic place were all there! Continue reading Interview | Ben Pastor, novelist | Author of the Week

Interview | Chip Martin, Starhaven Press | Indie Publisher of the Week

Are (were) your parents great readers? Tell us a bit about yourself.
My mother read novels considered important in America of her era. She wanted to be an actress, and one of my earliest memories is of hearing her perform as a singer. She had a remarkable voice. My father used to read us Civil War history at bedtime. He was not literary, but his parents’ ancestors included “the first American poet”, Anne Bradstreet. Continue reading Interview | Chip Martin, Starhaven Press | Indie Publisher of the Week

Review | Dedalus, Chris McCabe | Book of the Week

Too poetical that about the sad. Music did that. Music hath charms. Shakespeare said. Quotations every day in the year. To be or not to be. Wisdom while you wait.” – James Joyce

“What is modernism?” was one of the questions addressed during the recent BookBlast 10×10 Tour talk held in Waterstones, Norwich, featuring Galley Beggar Press authors Alex Pheby (hailed as “the new Beckett” by Stephen Bumphrey on BBC Radio Norfolk), Paul Stanbridge and Paul Ewen.

“Modernism consists of fragments put back together to make a whole out of disunity,” was one answer, “Being aware of the text and stepping outside it,” was another . . . along with stream of consciousness, multiple points of view, dense allusions, ambiguity and a phenomenal play of words on the page. Continue reading Review | Dedalus, Chris McCabe | Book of the Week

Interview | Ian Duhig, author & poet

Meet Ian Duhig in person at the 10×10 Tour event, Waterstones, Leeds 6.30 p.m. Thurs 20 SEPT. Theme: Birmingham & Leeds: A Tale of Two Cities. With Ra Page COMMA PRESS chair, authors  C.D. Rose (The Book of Birmingham) and Ian Duhig (The Book of Leeds). Book Tickets

Where were you born, and where did you grow up? 
London, the eighth of my parents but the first not born in Ireland, so I grew up in the London-Irish community of Paddington.

What sorts of books were in your family home?
Not many books but my mother knew a lot of poetry by heart as that’s how they learned it in Ireland in her youth; this with all her songs were very important to me.

Who were early formative influences as a writer?
I liked poetry at school but when I worked in Belfast in a hostel for young offenders before the Good Friday Agreement, discovering the Northern Irish poets like Heaney, Longley, Mahon, Muldoon, McGuckiand and more recently Sinead Morrissey was electrifying. Continue reading Interview | Ian Duhig, author & poet

Review | Robinson and An Overcoat, both by Jack Robinson a.k.a. Charles Boyle

Written in the aftermath of the 2016 referendum when the UK voted to leave the EU, Robinson is essential and entertaining reading. By the end of the 19th century there were over 700 spin-off versions of Robinson Crusoe: the novel is brilliantly and succinctly revisited by Charles Boyle a.k.a. Jack Robinson in a modern-day setting. 

Random thoughts from an offshore island

James Joyce considered Robinson’s grandfather to be ‘the true prototype of the English colonist . . . The whole Anglo Saxon spirit is in Crusoe: the manly independence; the unconscious cruelty; the persistence; the slow yet efficient intelligence; the sexual apathy; the practical, well-balanced religiousness; the calculating taciturnity.’ Crusoe – the eponymous hero of the book by Daniel Defoe that is often considered to be the first English novel.” Continue reading Review | Robinson and An Overcoat, both by Jack Robinson a.k.a. Charles Boyle